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The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump poses with a bagpiper as he arrives at his revamped Trump Turnberry golf course in Turnberry Scotland, June 24, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA/AP)

Trump baffles with bizarre appearance in Scotland

06/24/16 08:45AM

Earlier this month, Donald Trump was asked about the upcoming vote in the U.K. about leaving the European Union. The reporter asked, "And Brexit? Your position?" Trump replied, "Huh?"
 
"Brexit," the reporter repeated. "Hmm," Trump responded, apparently unfamiliar with the term.
 
With this exchange in mind, consider what the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said on Twitter this morning:
"Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!"
What Trump may not realize, or really even be able to fully understand, is that Scotland is "going wild" because Scottish voters overwhelmingly voted against leaving the E.U. Locally, people aren't celebrating -- because they see this as a disaster.
 
Trump proceeded to hold a press conference in Scotland, against the backdrop of one of the most important political moments in the modern history of the United Kingdom, where he spoke at great length, and in great detail, about his new golf resort. The Republican candidate boasted about refurbished holes on his course, plumbing, putting greens, and zoning considerations.
 
Even by the low standards of Donald J. Trump, it was among the most baffling press conferences anyone has ever seen. The entirety of Scotland is reeling; the future of the U.K. and the continent is uncertain; and an American presidential candidate arrived to deliver a testimonial about a country club and how fond he is of the design of a golf course.
 
Wait, it gets worse.
British and European Union flags on June 22, 2016. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty)

UK's 'Brexit' results rattle the world

06/24/16 08:00AM

Americans who turned in last night, cautiously optimistic that cooler heads would prevail, and British voters would take the more responsible course on the question of "Brexit," woke up to an unsettling surprise.
Britain has voted to leave the European Union in a historic referendum that forced the country's prime minister to step down, upended markets and set the stage for a messy untangling with far-reaching implications.
 
Electoral officials said early Friday that the "Leave" campaign had racked up 17.4 million votes -- compared to 16.1 million backing the status quo. That gave "Leave" 51.9 percent of the ballots against 48.1 percent for "Remain."
The dominoes are already falling quite quickly. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned heavily in support of the U.K. keeping its place in the E.U., is stepping down. Scottish leaders are preparing anew for a referendum on independence, saying Scotland does not want to be removed from the E.U. "against our will." Right-wing parties across Europe are talking about holding "Leave" referenda of their own. Global markets have declined sharply, and Wall Street is poised to have an exceedingly painful day.
 
And #WhatHaveWeDone is suddenly trending in the U.K.
 
For some in the United States, Europe's unraveling may seem like a distant concern, unrelated to the economy on this side of the Atlantic, but as Vox explained, "[T]urmoil in one of our most important trading partners can't be good for the U.S. economy."
Britain votes to leave European Union

Britain votes to leave European Union

06/24/16 01:17AM

Keir Simmons, NBC News correspondent, reports from outside British Parliament on the decision by UK voters to leave the European Union, and the political and economic ramifications that are likely to follow. watch

Thursday's Mini-Report, 6.23.16

06/23/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Nearly 26 hours later: "Civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis declared victory Thursday as he and the other Democrats who staged a revolt in the House of Representatives over gun policy reform suspended their nearly 26-hour sit-in in the Capitol. While they failed to get the Republicans to vote on two controversial gun control bills, Lewis said they got the point across to the American people."
 
* All eyes on the U.K.: "Europe held its breath Thursday as the U.K. began voting in a national referendum on whether or not to quit the European Union, with the outcome predicted to be on a knife-edge after a months-long and bitterly divisive campaign."
 
* An oil spill "that may have released more than 29,000 gallons of crude into a grassy canyon in Ventura County did not reach the beach or trigger evacuations, Ventura County fire officials said Thursday."
 
* Germany: "Police shot and killed a masked gunman who took hostages in a German movie theater complex Thursday, officials said. The drama unfolded at the Kinopolis movie complex on a sunny afternoon in the southwestern town of Viernheim."
 
* Baltimore: "A judge on Thursday acquitted a Baltimore police officer of murder charges in the death of Freddie Gray, a major setback for prosecutors and a sign that the fractured city may not see criminal convictions against any of the cops involved."
 
* Jordan "sealed its last entry point for Syrian refugees Tuesday after a cross-border suicide attack killed six members of the Jordanian security forces, wounded 14 and exposed the pro-Western kingdom's growing vulnerability to spillover from conflict next door."
 
* North Korea "launched two medium-range ballistic missiles early Wednesday in defiance of international sanctions."
 
* June's job numbers should be better than May's: "Fewer Americans filed for jobless benefits in the June 18 week, another sign that the labor market is withstanding choppiness in other segments of the economy. There were 259,000 initial claims, a decline of 18,000 from the prior week. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast 270,000. It marked the 68th week in which claims were lower than 300,000, the longest such streak since 1973."
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks during an event on Feb. 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Donald Rumsfeld's curious taste in presidential candidates

06/23/16 04:03PM

Some of the Republican Party's elder statesmen may like Hillary Clinton, but at least one high-profile member of the old guard is throwing his support to the GOP's presumptive nominee.
Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Defense secretary under President George W. Bush, said Wednesday he will vote for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.
 
"I'm a Republican, and there's not any doubt in my mind how I'll vote," Rumsfeld said in an interview with DailyMail.com. He said he agrees with Trump on issues such as reforming NATO and keeping Syrian refugees out of the U.S.
This doesn't come completely out of the blue. In January, the failed Pentagon secretary appeared on NBC's "Today" where he was quick to praise Trump. "I see someone who has touched a nerve in our country," Rumsfeld said, adding that the 2016 candidate has "caused people to respond in a way that most politicians have not been able to do."
 
But that was on Jan. 25. One wonders if Rumsfeld heard what Trump had to say just three weeks later during a nationally televised debate:
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee walks to a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, for a meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Rice continued...

Bipartisan gun reform measure advances, despite NRA opposition

06/23/16 02:54PM

Earlier this week, the Senate took up four gun measures, each of which came up short. Soon after, however, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) presented a compromise proposal, which generated a surprising amount of bipartisan support.
 
And in a surprising twist, this one advanced.
The Senate is voting on bipartisan legislation banning gun sales to people on the no-fly list.
 
Senate Republican leaders agreed to allow a vote on the measure crafted by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., and a handful of colleagues from both parties, though she's unsure it will get the votes needed to move forward.
The procedural aspect of this gets a little complicated, but today's vote was a "motion to table," which means "yea" was a vote to kill Collins' amendment, while "nay" was a vote to keep it alive. The final tally was 46 to 52, which means the measure survived. [Update: Here's the roll call. Note, Democratic support was unanimous, and they were joined by seven Republicans.]
 
The National Rifle Association opposed the proposal, which makes today's outcome a bit of a surprise: in a Republican-led chamber, the NRA is not accustomed to losing floor votes on gun policy.
 
Today's outcome doesn't mean the Collins amendment passed, but that's the next step. The fact that it cleared today's test keeps the measure alive, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who endorsed the amendment, has said he'll push for further action on Collins' policy.
Credit: Susan Walsh/AP Photo

Supreme Court surprises with affirmative action ruling

06/23/16 12:43PM

The Fisher v. Texas case has been bouncing around the courts for quite a while, but when it reached the U.S. Supreme Court, many court observers thought they knew how this case would turn out. But once in a while, the justices manage to surprise.
 
As MSNBC's Irin Carmon explained a while back, the dispute stems from a complaint filed by Abigail Fisher, a white woman "who claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her race, despite the fact that a lower court found she wouldn't have been admitted regardless of her race."
 
The court fight led to a challenge to the affirmative action program at the University of Texas at Austin, which the justices seemed likely to strike down. Instead, they did the opposite: a 4-3 court upheld the policy today.
 
NBC News' Pete Williams walked through the basics of the dispute.
A Texas law guarantees admission to the university for students in roughly the top ten percent of the graduating class of any Texas high school. To fill the remaining slots, about one fourth of each entering class, the school considers several other factors, including an applicant's race. That last step was the program under court challenge, upheld by the justices Thursday.
 
The school said students learn better when there's diversity on campus and within racial groups. But a woman who was denied admission, Abigail Fisher, filed a lawsuit claiming the diversity standard was too vague to justify making distinctions based on race.
 
The Supreme Court gave a limited victory to the university three years ago, agreeing that campus diversity is a worthy goal. But the justices instructed an appeals court to review whether considering an applicant's race was necessary to achieving it. When that court said it was, Fisher again appealed, leading to Thursday's decision.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in this case was the fact that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has been an opponent of affirmative action in the past, wrote the ruling defending the university's policy. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor.
 
Justice Elena Kagan, who dealt with this case during her tenure as Solicitor General, recused herself from the case, which is why seven justices participated in the ruling.

Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.23.16

06/23/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* President Obama has been careful not to use Donald Trump's name recently, so it was of interest when he told Bloomberg Politics in a new interview, "There's no successful businessman in America who actually thinks the most successful businessman in America is Donald Trump."
 
* Trump's campaign claimed yesterday that it raised $2 million in less than 12 hours after sending out a fundraising appeal this week. The Trump Victory Fund, which is a joint fundraising committee that partners with the RNC, raised an additional $3 million.
 
* To the disappointment of his supporters who still believe he may be the Democratic presidential nominee, Bernie Sanders conceded on C-SPAN yesterday, "Well, you know it's hard to say, it doesn't appear that I'm gonna be the nominee." The senator has also scheduled a "Where We Go From Here" speech, to be delivered in New York later this afternoon.
 
* In an unexpected move, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) did not endorse Sen. Marco Rubio's (R) re-election yesterday, instead offering encouragement to Rubio's most notable primary rival. "Carlos Beruff is a good friend of mine, a businessman and an outsider to politics," the governor said in a statement. "The voters of Florida deserve the opportunity to consider his candidacy alongside Senator Rubio and make their own decision."
 
* Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R), however, who frequently clashed with Rubio during their presidential campaign, quickly threw his support behind the incumbent senator yesterday, as did former rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
 
* The Libertarian Party's presidential ticket participated in a prime-time town-hall event on CNN yesterday, but it was overshadowed by the sit-in drama on the floor of the House of Representatives.
People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court building January 11, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty)

Supreme Court blocks Obama admin's immigration policy

06/23/16 11:01AM

In November 2014, soon after the midterm elections, President Obama announced he'd found a way forward on overhauling immigration policy, relying exclusively on his executive authority. As regular readers may recall, the result was a policy known as DAPA -- Deferred Action for Parental Accountability -- in which the White House, among other things, extended temporary status to millions of undocumented immigrants, shielding them from deportation threats and allowing them to apply for work permits.

At the time, the Justice Department took the unusual step of publishing a dense, 33-page legal memo, explaining in great detail exactly why the president’s executive actions are legally permissible under existing laws, rulings, and precedents. Federalist Society members couldn’t come up with a constitutional objection; Obama’s actions are in line with what some of his Republican predecessors did without incident; and the whole legal argument against Obama’s actions seemed a little silly.

And yet, the White House's Republican critics felt a little differently, and 26 states filed a suit challenging DAPA. In an unexpected result, the far-right opponents of the administration's policy have won -- at least for now. NBC News' Pete Williams reported this morning:
The U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 Thursday over a challenge to President Obama's immigration policy, a result that prevents the administration from putting the program into effect during the rest of his term. [...]
 
The death of Antonin Scalia left the Supreme Court evenly divided on the issue. Thursday's tie vote means the justices were unable to announce a ruling, an outcome that leaves in place the lower court rulings against enforcing the plan.
Ordinarily, we'd get more guidance from the ruling itself, but in this case, the decision is literally one sentence: "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court." It doesn't even say which justices voted which way, though it doesn't take a legal expert to guess how the justices were divided.
 
As a substantive matter, Americans won't see a shift in policy -- DAPA was already on hold by court order -- but millions of immigrants were poised to benefit from President Obama's policy, and as a result of the Supreme Court's tie, that will not happen, at least not this year.

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Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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